Hisao Hanafusa (b. 1937) was born in Miyakonojo, a city at the southernmost tip of Japan. After graduating from the Kyoto University of Fine Arts, he moved to New York in 1963. His career as an artist in New York witnessed many successes. Most notably, his works have appeared in four group exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum. Hanafusa is both a traditional craftsman and a contemporary artist. His work encompasses inspirations drawn from vastly different realms and cultures.
Hanafusa’s paintings can be roughly divided into two groups: his steel paintings of the late twentieth century, and his gestural paintings started in the 2000s. Works of the first group, mostly created with steel tubes and paint on canvas, epitomized aesthetic strategies of mid-century Japanese and American contemporary art. Later in his career, Hanafusa believed that painting carries knowledge innate to human mind. “I believe that all humans have uchuiden or ‘cosmicmemory’,” he wrote, “My work is an exploration of the mysteries of my own uchuiden (cosmicmemory).” Guided by this idea, his later work series “Uchuiden Kioku” feature all-over compositions created with silver aluminum paint. These later works also involve a temporal dimension. As the silver paint ages over the years, it changes into dark red, yellow, or brown. Works of the earlier group are mostly restrained in visual expression, sharing much similarity with mono-ha and minimalism; the later works highlight the materiality of paint, generating marks reminiscent of gestural brushwork. What connects these two groups of works is Hanafusa’s continuing challenge of the boundary of painting.
Hanafusa’s artworks are in the collection of a number of worldly renowned art institutions, including Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. As for the artist’s carpentry work, relevant reports have appeared on New York Timesand New York Magazine.